Christian music is generally thought to have began in the 70s with Larry Norman who sang about apocalyptic images and cracked jokes about how Rock was God’s Music, Satan stole it, and how Norman himself was stealing it back. The first true Rock band in Christian circles, Petra, whose first album was released in 1974, soon followed him.
However, this is not exactly where Christian Rock actually began. It seems to have originated among individuals such as Chuck Berry who was the son of a Baptist preacher, Buddy Holly who was a devout Baptist, and Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, Luther Vandross, just to name a few that come immediately to mind. who all began their music careers by singing Gospel.
Rock was quickly separated from religion, however, and it received little attention until Larry Norman came onto the scene, despite the fact that all through the sixties other religions were looked at in Rock music. Objections from Christians themselves were argued along the lines of Christian rock being inferior to main stream music.
These claims were made obviously by people who had never been to a Petra, Love Song, Resurrection Band, Keith Green or DC Talk live show, just a few bands that I worked with back in the day. The production, the stage shows, sound and lights competed with the best rock shows in the business.
Trying to separate Gospel from secular music has really not ever made sense to me. Of course there is music that inspires and music that can tear you down, but music is music, whether it be country, rock, R&B., heavy metal, etc. etc. One can argue what is “good music” and what is “bad music” but like all forms of art music is very subjective.
I have George Jones and Jimmy Hendrix on the same CD when I am driving down the road 🙂